Women in Parliaments: Descriptive and Substantive Representation

Posted: 4 Jun 2010

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 2009


This essay reviews two research programs. The first focuses on variations in the number of women elected to national parliaments in the world (descriptive representation), and the second focuses on effects of women's presence in parliament (substantive representation). The theory of the politics of presence (Phillips 1995) provides reasons for expecting a link between descriptive and substantive representation. The safest position would be to say that results are mixed when it comes to empirical support for the theory of the politics of presence. However, when a large number of studies covering a wide set of indicators on the importance of gender in the parliamentary process are piled together, the picture that emerges shows that female politicians contribute to strengthening the position of women's interests.

Suggested Citation

Wängnerud, Lena, Women in Parliaments: Descriptive and Substantive Representation (June 2009). Annual Review of Political Science, Vol. 12, pp. 51-69, 2009, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1600551 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev.polisci.11.053106.123839

Lena Wängnerud (Contact Author)

University of Gothenburg ( email )

Viktoriagatan 30
Göteborg, 405 30

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